For everyone who thinks my Kyrgyzstan tone too often borders on the negative – I swear I didn’t come here biased against the country, and I’m not making stuff up. Every county, every community, has its faults. Kyrgyzstan is still a very new nation, a country still struggling to define itself and its community bonds, a country where people often put very little faith in their state institutions, with a capital where people don’t really trust people on the street to be kind, civil, and just (which I think very much explains the me-and-my-gains-first attitude I so often see among strangers, especially in the impersonalized space of driving).
From five years of living in China, the Chinese state seemed to have far too much control; Kyrgyzstan seems to suffer from the opposite extreme. Again, regimented order versus occasional freewheeling chaos.
Anyway, all of this was brought up by an article and a video I came across today while trying to track down something for work (article here). Basic background: Tuesday night the Kyrgyzstan-Australia FIFA World Cup playoff was held in Bishkek at the old Spartak Stadium. Many people bought their tickets ahead of time (indeed, we had even thought of going). However, when people began queuing at the stadium before the game, hundreds of young men (with no tickets) began vaulting over the walls and barricades to take seats in the stadium. Security (including armed security) barely blocked their entrance – but, after the stadium filled, they did bar would-be-spectators with pre-purchased tickets from entering. Instead of, you know, going around the stadium to do a ticket check and kicking out people without tickets. Interesting to see that all the people wall vaulting appear to be males aged 14-25; that in itself reflects a lot about gender and societal expectations (a bit too much to go into here).
What these videos demonstrate: low faith in public institutions, disregard for law (and for those who have rightful claim), disregard for law enforcement, extreme frustration among ordinary citizens and – gawd teenage men . Traffic (and certain other sectors) aren’t much different.